ACU’s Annabel Watson meets Harry and Meghan

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It’s not every day a fancy, gold lettered invitation to personally meet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex lobs into the mailbox.

So, it’s no surprise that Annabel Watson, a Future in Youth Project Officer at Australian Catholic University, did a double take.

“It was really exciting, it was such a welcome surprise and an honour to be selected to be at this event recognising young Victorian leaders,” she said.

Annabel, who for the past three years has led the charge in building community health initiatives and sport programs at government housing towers in the City of Yarra, has played a pivotal role in empowering young people through sport.


She joined about 150 young Victorian leaders from myriad fields at the Government House reception hosted by the Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex met exceptional young Victorians behind innovative and entrepreneurial endeavours in the arts, technology, indigenous health, education and media.

“It was an inspiring and motivational room to be in,” Annabel said.

Everyone you spoke to was doing amazing work and it was very uplifting to hear how other young people are making a difference with incredible projects across all areas.”
Annabel was nominated for the royal event by the Football Federation Victoria (FFV) for her role in a series of projects, including an innovative ACU program which successfully partners with FFV, the City of Yarra and Victoria Police to deliver sport programs to disadvantaged children and teens.


One of the programs, known as the Fitzroy Thunder, provides football clinics for girls from multicultural backgrounds.

About 150 children and teens take part in ACU-led programs in Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond each week.

Annabel’s work is part of the long-running ACU sports-based program Future in Youth which extends to East Timor.

For that past 10 years, ACU exercise science students and staff have worked with young East Timorese people to teach them about leadership, respect, fairness, and fun.

The FIY program runs in Baucau, East Timor’s second largest town, where it reaches hundreds of young people.

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